Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hawaii


We are threatened with a big snow storm tonight and Monday morning which could impact on the schools and perhaps the Council Meeting.Would it not be nice if the city site had some thing posted for March -it is blank as of this moment. Perhaps if there is any changes in the Council meeting some one would post it on the city site.

I felt it was a good time to revisit the Hawaiian Islands. Except for the picture of a jet coming in for a landing in Honolulu, all the pictures are from the other islands. Although when I compose the text with the picture and check the preview often when the blog is posted things seem to have a mind of their own as to where they wish to be.

We could start above the clouds at Lookout Point In Kauai








Airplane and shadow

The coast of Maui towards Hana









Hana



The Lava fields and beach at Kona Village













Every title and photo was in position when I previewed the posting,where it ends up only an IT expert knows

ACCOUNTABILITY

If I were a manic depressive I am sure that the local newspaper articles and the blogs of the last few days would make the recent stock market activity look like a booming economy compared to my psychological status. Fortunately, I do not have to consult "my son the psychiatrist."

Where to begin? The Courier is a good place. The City will have to pay former Chief Santiago $275,000. Fortunately the present administration can not be accused responsibility for this suit resulted from action by the Public Safety Director in the previous administration and will be paid from the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund which will also absorb the legal cost involved in the suit's defense.

However the settlement must like all claims impact on the city's annual contribution, in lieu of a premium , to the fund. If the legal costs are born by the city that adds to Plainfield's diversion of expendable funds from municipal needs.

But this administration could have defused the suit. Rather then clearing the Chief's record it chose to take political action and with the help of a compliant Council eliminated the Chief's position. There has never been an explanation as to his operational deficiencies or incompetency that led to the need to put the department under civilian political control. The city's expert also named Santiago who testified before the rubber stamp council had been fired from more than one Director of Public Safety position within the last few years. The city had lost a highly qualified well liked Latino official.

This brings us to Santiago's exile place the narcotic's Bureau which is in rented space at $2000.00+ a month. Director Hellwig mentioned that there is consideration of moving into the Teppers Basement which the city apparently owns and on which in 2007 reportedly spent nearly a half a million dollars -. What was the money expended for? How was the contract issued and why has it not been used? How much more money is required for converting the space into usable property? Let us have the answers.

I also read in today's papers that there has been an allocation of "Stimulus money" to Essex County and some communities. There has been published a list of requests for money from various New Jersey Communities, but sadly Plainfield is missing. Where is Administration?
If towns can apply for millions to repave parking lots we certainly should have had in by now at least a preliminary request for millions to return our roads to a functionally safe for cars and humans condition.

In regards to establishing a Director of Data Processing or IT or whatever name given position with the intention of not funding until it is to be filled,I will continue to oppose the concept. If the Council approved the Ordinance it is in effect creating a potential time bomb. We have had Directorships filled in the past without Council approval sometimes on an acting basis sometimes on technicalities for a prolong period of time. Under the present administration this could be prolonged for up to 10 months.

Since creating a position following the Ordinance process under the present Council schedule could be accomplished in as few as 50 days, there is no emergency needed to create an unfulfilled position unless there are unannounced agendas. Let the Council and Administration not procrastinate, but for once investigate and then determine exactly what is required to best serve Plainfield's IT needs. We need hard fact at what is to be accomplished, what personnel and "hard materials" are needed and what is the most cost effective way to do the job. At present people are talking about "pie in the sky" and present nothing concrete.

Since I am posting twice this Saturday, I may reserve tomorrow for a few memory photographs and only "breaking news comments".

MINI POTPOURRI

Time for a lighter mini Potpourri;two from Hawaii and two from Malta.

From Hawaii; Sunset at Kona on the "Big Island" and Chil at Beach.
















From Malta; Walls of Valletta from the Harbor, and Countryside.

Road Status

Several times I have mentioned the crater like conditions of Plainfield's streets. I have been reminded that this problem is not on local to Plainfield but all surrounding communities have similar problems.

That is true to a degree. This has been an extremely tough fall and winter on pavements. On the the other hand I think the condition of the Plainfield streets is far worse than any other town's.

For the last two to three decades because of costs all responsible political entities have abandoned routine maintenance of roads. I can not remember when I last saw a crew tarring road cracks. That would be Road Preservation 101. Cold patching pot holes is only a temporary solution, it must be followed by hot patching to perhaps prevent the same holes reforming the next weather cycle.

For towns that receive grants to repave roads there is little incentive to repair on an on going basis since the money for new pavement comes from in most cases the state. At least every time it is discussed in Council that is used by administrations as the selling point for the work.

In as much as the expected life of a properly engineered and constructed new pavement is 20 years, anything shorter could be due to excessive usage. Other factors that contribute to the short life span of a pavement is of course first slipshod engineering both in planning and in supervision this includes making sure that there is proper drainage. Next is the use of substandard materials,not providing the right base and sub base and/or improper application of the pavement . Then there is excessive opening the road with substandard repair of the opening. And then there is of course the lack of sealing cracks or ignoring surface pitting which destroys the pavements integrity.

The above are causes of the problem. However there are other overlooked potential red flags that result in bad roads. A major one is the policy of using "acceptable vendors" rather then the open bidding process. This could be structured so that the municipality had a choice among lowest bidders not being obligate to use the lowest if there is a question about performance.

No matter how any administrator claims that due to grants it is not costing the local taxpayer to repave streets, the money came from taxes paid to the state. Proper maintenance should not be ignored.It may be short term costly to the public but in the long run it saves dollars that have other and better quality of life uses.

Somehow after two flat tires this year from potholes hit after dark while driving at or near the speed limit, I am more than ever concerned by the dangers resulting from not promptly making temporary repairs to be followed by proper long term patching. I feel that before all our streets become class 4 or lower that this should be a major focus rather than repaving the less traveled roads. There must be priority in the budget for this work.

Fortunately Park Ave, Seventh Street and Terril are County roads and they are are not Plainfield's responsibility.

Locally one of the potentially more dangerous roads is Route 22 westbound right lane from Mountain Ave. to the mall entrance where the rough pavement might cause a speeding driver to swerve. Also there is danger during lane changes especially at high speed of hitting an unsuspected pothole.

Friday, February 27, 2009

COUNCIL WORKING MEETING THOUGHTS

An additional thought or two regarding the Wednesday night Council meeting. I heard no mention about the health care vacuum that has resulted from the hospital closing except the Fire Department's training "first responders" for treating emergencies especially when the EMTs are not available. Meeting the community's health needs is as much a part of Public Safety as is Police and Fire protection.

Secondly, neither department should be allowed to drop as low as the minimal personnel needed to fulfill its functions. To be below those levels is risking the citizen's safety. They should be provided with the proper equipment needed. If this means that bare bones operations should take place for the pencil pushers so be it.

In return the uniformed services should adjust their TOs so that they are not top heavy and there are adequate grunts available. It would also be nice if some reworking their contracts in this time of financial distress happened.

The IT question is one that has to be answered and some serious thought must be given to less expensive adequate methods to answer that need.Councilwoman McWilliams in the latest posting of her blog, has written on her findings on this issue. She recommends that the Council takes its time in approving the Ordinance.

On reading Jerry Green's Page Thursday evening I understood that he has possible solutions to the gang problems as well as facing the re-entry situation. It would have been nice if he had shared his findings with the Council at their meeting rather than waiting for a meeting of his own.

Leland Ave. has become a crater zone again. 8th street by the library is an abomination. Are there any streets in the City that do not need work? I think that within the next 30 days a list of urgent street repairs and replacement should be provided to whom ever is going to dole out any stimulus money that the city can get.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

COUNCIL WORKING SESSION

Despite the verbiage I wonder what benefit the Council received from last nights well attended meeting at the centrally located public library. I can not attempt to record in detail what was said and will only note my impressions on certain aspects of the presentation.

Director of Public Affairs and Safety Martin Hellwig with the help of Captains of the Police Division occupied over an hour of the meeting. Much of the presentation was a review of activities since the reorganization of the department with the creation of bureaus designated as Traffic, and one as Community Relations.

The number of tickets issued for moving violations has increased dramatically in the second half of 2008 with the assignment of specific officers to that bureau.It is felt that this new bureau's activities has decreased the number of automobile related fatalities.

The Community Relations bureaus scope is a little puzzling as it seems to overlap some functions other bureaus. One of its functions is to investigate any suspicious activities noted by citizens. The Chief gave the Officer Riviera's cell phone # 732-522-1731 as a 24/7 modality fort citizen's use in reporting and disturbance of the peace or the presence of questionable individuals and there would be a prompt response.

Hellwig also report on the cooperation with the county prosecutor's office in action related to narcotic and especially gang activities.

An in length discourse related to the installation of surveillance cameras in the downtown area and/ or high crime areas raised questions as to who, when and where monitoring will take place. The use of the " Tepper basement area as the site with the relocation of some other police functions there and a substation location was suggested since there is apparently a lack of space in the Police building and the Narcotic's Bureau which is located in rental quarters at about $2000.00 monthly could be moved there.

The Director noted that they have hired a consultant to determine camera location and also the possibility of obtaining by grants more camera and also the tying in of private surveillance systems as well as the Housing Authority's passive installation to this one at a central location. There was no concrete plan or estimate of staffing and costs mentioned. The concepts are good, probably unattainable or unrealistic but should be investigated.

The cooperation was the school system especially relating to the gang and security problems was also addressed by Dr Gallon the district superintendent. The President of the BOE as well as Assemblyman Green made comments relating in part to the approach to the gang problem by trying to educate prospective members to not join one. There was emphasis on the parental responsibility'

After a brief presentation by the Fire Department in which First Responder Training and Red Cross Certification was emphasized there was the public comment portion.

Flo Gonzales passionate appeal for communication and understanding with the Police pointed out that they felt it was lacking since Chief Santiago's position was eliminated. Reverend Thomas also noted the role his church and other clergy can play in the anti gang drive.

It should be noted that both Police and Fire departments are slightly understaffed at present and that budget restrictions should not be directed at them.

Perhaps there is grant money available that additional police for specific functions could be hired. I think that a report on ethnic breakdown as to numbers and rank in both departments would be valuable info to Council and public.

WORDLESS TODAY

Due to the long meeting and a need to sort out what was presented my take will be delayed to afternoon at the earliest. Sorry. These three late 1950s pictures of New Orleans are poor substitutes except perhaps for the trolley.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

COURIER EDITORIAL

It sure is nice to see a voice of sanity in today's news media. I am not referring to the President's speech but to today's Courier editorial. We can only hope that its message impacts on the thought process of those Councilors who think that the tail (an IT organization) that wags the dog (administration) is more important than the body.

There is no question that Plainfield's IT is almost non existent. We do need an state of the art operation, but who's fault is it that in the past three years we have not been brought up to snuff? How much money has been expended on ill conceived measures or unqualified consultants? Who and how were they hired? Has any attempt been made to find better alternative means to achieve the desired set up? The Council should consider all possibilities.

Any legislator when presented with a bill that must be passed immediately should examine it in depth. Is there an ulterior motive behind the urgency? Perhaps not, but doing something in haste can never be good. We do not need a position on our "TO" that we can not fund, but can be filled at anytime without Council approval. Should we heed the rumors that there is someone waiting to be appointed asap.

There is on the national level little exception to not passing bills in haste. The President's stimulus legislation, although an emergency measure was passed after alterations in Congress. The PWA portion of his plan was of great benefit to the nations infrastructure, and employment during the firs years of FDR's administration. The situation was as perhaps more desperate than today but the work load provided eliminated the bread lines and the Hobos. Let us hope that the vultures don't turn it into their own special pork belly.

Mostly Pictures

Tuesday night's forceful speech by my -our-President reminded me of FDR taking control of the Bank crisis and the beginning of the New Deal. It will take some time to digest his words, but I feel that they are constructive. Let us hope that the politicians don't turn his plans into a grab bag.

Since I have no words of wisdom I am posting some special pictures taken about 50 years ago on an island hopping trip to the Caribbean Islands.

I had two spy cameras that took colored slides which were approximatyely 1/2 inch x 1/4 inch and mounted into holders that fit a 35mm slide projector. There has been some loss of color and some detail loss, but overall they are worth saving. On some I did special "tweaking". The first one is the waterfront at St Johns, Antigua. It has been treated to look like an oil panting. The next two are (lower) beach in Trinidad, and (top) an old sugar mill in Antigua.




















This last one is a street scene in St. Johns.


Councilor Mapp has written a comment to my Feb. 21 blog on the budget. He clarifies the questions that I raised about the budget process.


BERNICE NOTES CHANGE IN TONIGHT'S COUNCIL'S PUBLIC MEETING FROM WASHINGTON SCHOOL TO THE LIBRARY.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MONDAY NIGHT AT THE COUNCIL Part 2

Corporation Counsel Williamson reported on the new draft of the agreement with Solaris which upon clearing up whether Solaris will purchase an ambulance for the city, or operate an ambulance for the next 3 to 5 years, the city is ready to sign off. If Solaris accepts this document and is approved by the Commissioner of Health then the city will probably drop out of the suit against Solaris. The agreement is being done unilaterally without the support of POP and Restore Muhlenberg.

There was no answer to a question about who would enforce Solaris' compliance with this agreement, since the Commissioner of Health had not held Solaris to the conditions which were part of the granting the CN to close the hospital.

Corporation Counsel in reply to a question stated that there was a provision in the agreement requiring Solaris to set a "fair sales valuation" on the campus. Solaris had supposedly put a bloated price on the property before receiving the CN to discourage any legitimate purchasers of the hospital.

I would hope that once the city has signed the agreement, all of its provisions will be made public. Solaris has proven in the past that it can not be held accountable.

An emergency temporary appropriation for March and April was approved for action next Monday. The resolution to be voted on states " that Temporary budget resolutions for FY 2009 previously adopted by the city are hereby rescinded and and are replace by the following consolidated temporary budget appropriation". What is presented is supposedly a "budget" for the first 10 months of FY 2009. May and June are still in limbo.

I can only assume that the $54,987,356.23 listed represents the sum total of the first 8 months already approved plus the 2 new months. It should represent 5/6th of last years budget. If I am wrong I would appreciate corrections.

At the Public Comment portion of the meeting several speakers remarked about experiences with PMUA. One questioned the inclusion of the "fair share" charge in PMUA's bill since it represents a contracted service from the city, and its costs should be a budget item and therefor part of the tax base, not the individual property owners responsibility.

Monday, February 23, 2009

COUNCIL MEETING

The 7:30 PM Council meeting started at 8:20 PM.delayed 50 minutes by the closed executive session. Until I have time to go over my notes this will only be a brief comment on two items of interest.
City Administrater Dasheilds gave a power point presentation on the 50% pension plane deposit deferral. As I understood him, the 50% will be mandatory, and is to be paid back with 8% interest in 30 years. The city has 3 options:
  1. To place the 50% deferred in a trust which can not be touched for 3+ years'
  2. To place a portion of the deferred monies and use the rest for budget purposes.
  3. To use all of the withheld 50% for budget.
For the next 3 years the deferred portion is 40%, 20%, then 0%.

The ordnance creating a Director of Data Processing services caused a prolong discussion, almost equally dividing the Council. There are many unanswered questions and Dashield was actively lobbying for its adoption next Monday Councilor, claiming that creating a position with a salary range was preparatory only, and could not be filled until a budget slot existed. Councilor Mapp observed that it was like putting the cart before the horse. Others want more time to investigate

It will be on the agenda next Monday when Councilor Carter said she felt that the city should go forward in establishing a needed IT service, but she wanted more information on total costs and along with asked for assurance that there was no one already picked for the job. The question was raised and I do njot feel if it was completely answered if the Council would have the right of approval of ay candidate. .

My position would be that it is bad. Until the Council receives the information they want there should be no vote. If enacted, despite assurances that it would not be operative until funded in the budget, the format of the IT program would have been cast in stone. Get a plan and then create the offices needed to fit the plan. The argument that we have already had consultants who failed to produce a workable system is not valid since there have been in the past three years questions about how those consultants were selected and there qualifications.

Mr Dashields statement that the reason no other community in the county has an IT Directer is because non are as large as Plainfield is a unique argument for action. The last I heard Elizabeth was the County seat, and I am sure that the population of others approaches Plainfield's,

The next committee report should contain a plan. It is noteworthy that no municipality in Union County has a person designated as IT director.

edited 7:20AM

Tonight's Council meeting 2/23/2009

My take on items for tonight's Council meeting;

The Information Technology Committee special report should be of interest in view of the 2nd reading for an ordinance establish the position of director of Data Processing with a salary range of 95.5K to 130.4K. This is not the time to commit to the expenditures of large salaries with the added required tax,pension,insurance costs. The true cost is not given. Moreover, with too many qualified people looking for jobs, a position can be filled at a much lower salary. Is the ordinance proposed for budget purposes?

The as of yet unknown proposed Solaris Health Systems Resolution will probably only address face saving band aids, not a real answer to our health crisis.

Public safety meeting Feb. 25, should have been preceded by a report in depth from the Director of Public Safety on his take and proposed workable solutions of Plainfield's problems. Another night meeting in the West End should not be needed.

The Emergency Temporary Budget;we are stuck at this time with no true budget. However there are items of interest needing explanation. An example under Information Technology the total is $74,300.00 or prorated to $205.800.00 annually, Public Information is $209,615.00 or $1,257,690.00 yearly, Corporation Counsel for two months is$607,198.00 or $3,650,140 annually if these figures are derived in equal installments from the 2008 Budget. These are just samples of extraordinary large expenses for which the public's benefit is unknown. I hope there will be clarification or at least questioning before being put on the agenda.

Council President Burney wrote that there were few items to consider for the agenda. I hope that the consideration is in depth.

It would be nice if at the Agenda Setting Session a short period PRIOR to Council's consideration would be allotted for piblic comment.

Why Slides


As many of you know I am going through the process of digitalising about 3000 slides taken over several decades of travels which started in the 50s. Why so many slides? I took multiple pictures at sites with the hope that I would get at least one that was worth displaying to others. I am amazed at the number of good photos, and of course a few excellent ones. The sad part is that may films have disintegrated over the years and some are worthless. Others have lost color but can still be preserved as "Black & White" or in a Sepia format. Many have need tweaking of the color to be of interest.

About 10 years ago I started to write a memoir at my kid's request to document my WWII experiences. I expanded that into a childhood to prewar volume and also a post war document. Most of this is still in draft form, and is probably of no interest except to immediate family. However I have excerpted vignettes in the past for my blog and probably will do so in the future. Undoubtedly I will repeat what I wrote, and I beg your forgiveness if I do so,

I had written about 73 pages devoted to our travels ,which I titled " "Voyages of Discovery" I felt that the title would be appropriate.although we were not a Columbus or Drake etc., for the following reasons;

Prior to WWII, only the wealthy Americans traveled by ship to lands outside the continental United States. It is true that trans-ocean flights were possible on the “Pan Am Clippers”, large flying boats, or by Zeppelin until the Hindenburg disaster. But, those methods of transportation accompanied on a limited number of passengers, and were more expensive then the long sea voyages.

In the post war period the short range pre war Douglas DC3 and DC4, which was capable of trans-Atlantic flights, were the major passenger carriers. In 1949 the Boeing Stratocrusier was introduced for non stop Trans Atlantic flights. This aircraft was a derivative of the B24 bomber.

About the same time the Lockheed Constellation and the Douglas DC6, also descendants of wartime aircraft, entered service, permitting the movement of relatively large numbers of people at one time.

In 1968 the British Comet, the first passenger carrying jet, was introduced. This short lived plane was followed in October of that year by the highly successful Boeing 707. This aircraft had a production life of almost 30 years making it and the prewar Douglas DC3 two of the most profitable aircrafts in history.

As a consequence of the introduction of the passenger jets, our generation had opportunities no other generation had enjoyed. In hours one could be in any part of the world. Today Tibet or the Antarctica is as accesible as New York City. Moreover, in 2 to 4 weeks ones daily life would be resumed.

Regrettably, there was not enough available time to absorb this entire globe. For the average American the opening up of foreign countries with different traditions and customs truly became Voyages of Discovery."

Since many have not been able to take advantage of these opportunities, I hope you will indulge my wish to share some selected old pictures with you.

A nice picture does n ot have to be a fantastic landscape, or a beautiful lake or a portrait. It can be a simple scene like the one above, small cotages along a waterway with metropolitan skyscrapers in the background. The location is of no importance.






Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ramblings 2/22/09

Sunday's Courier has three legal ads relating to items to appear before the Zoning Board and The Plaining Board, relating to two projects by the same developer in the North Ave. redevelopment area. Both projects involve conversion of vacant buildings into a mix commercial/residential property. One requires the constriction of an additional floor.

I question the viability of these two projects in today's financial crisis. I object to the request to wave the requirement for approximately a total of 90 parking spaces. To assume that none of the residents of the 12 apartments on Park Ave., or those in the larger East 2nd St. project will not have cars is absurd. To make no provisions for those who use the commercial facilities is equally inane. There is not sufficient on street space available for residential use let alone both.

Each board will have to consider the impact upon the appearance of the central area if that waver is granted. Although I do not intend to attend either hearing, I am sure those concerns will be raised.

A meeting that I shall attend despite a major conflict, is the Council's Agenda Setting session Monday night. I hope City Administrator Deshields will answer in his presentation how the city will meets its outstanding present budget commitments and what should be the projection for FYI 2010.

Of all the proposed expense saving measures, the elimination of the CofC and reducing code enforcement should have careful consideration. The city should take no action that could possibly increase the attraction of slum lord ownership's of Plainfield's excessive housing stock.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Budget Again

Thank you Councilor Mapp for your lucid explanation why Plainfield and 43 other communities have not been able to adopt a budget. You have let the Mayor and City Administrator off the hook.

I am not clear about the "cap", I know it is a 4% on the local property tax. Was there not also a 2% cap in existence and is the 4% on top of the earlier cap or has it expired. Is it not true that the levy cap does not apply to the County and BOE portions of the tax bill? If true our tax bill might rise 5% or more.

An other question that has not been answered is the impact on the 1.6 million dollar error in the submitted proposed budget on the 3 million shortfall. That would be Administrations accountability.

I hope the State does not mandate the 50% underfunding of pension plans. Personally I would benefit by a smaller tax bill today, and having the knowledge that the likely hood of not being around when it will be time to "Pay the Piper" will not cost me in the long run.

This state like others apparently is going to make wages adjustments and work furloughs mandatory despite union pressure. Talks with the local employees to come to an amicable solution should be on going. Every where it is becoming an acceptance with a" do more with less" policy or layoffs. The Council must focus on that choice and hope the unions are good citizens.

amended 9:30AM

Friday, February 20, 2009

MUHLENBERG DISPUTE CONTINUES

That is the main headline in today's Courier. Mark Spivey writes to the status of the preconditions that Commissioner Howard placed on enacting the MRMC closure. The status or lack thereof has been a repeated subject of public comments at the Council meetings as well as of the "Plainfield Bogs"

As Mark Spivey writes the subject seems to be in limbo with accusations from the city protagonist and Solaris as to who is responsible for the non action. Who to believe?

It is difficult to accept Solaris' spokesman Steve Weise assertion that on Oct 10th there was a handshake agreement which the city has not signed. Solaris has been less than honest from the onset of its manipulations to close MRMC. Many of the conditions imposed in the granting of the CN that were required to be met have been given only lip service, others ignored completely. Despite many press releases there have been no positive results.

On the other hand Plainfield's Mayor seems to be unavailable too many times for comments. Assemblyman Green's blog is full of childish tirades against all the bogymen on the Internet to be believable. He also has lost public confidence in the secrecy associated with all his proclamations of the great deeds that he is accomplishing to negate the present disaster for Plainfield's health needs. Accountability is not there. Nor does responsibility for the City's position rest on his shoulders, instead it should be the Administration and Council's prerogative.

Plainfield Today does do an excellent job in exposing failures by all involved in this mess. However, as Green points out, there is a political taint to his column resulting from his active involvement in the so called New Democrats that clouds his remarks and puts a damper on motivation. This is unfortunate because "White is white and Black is black" and unless definitive factual rebuttal to his charges are produced, then their validity must be accepted.

Sadly, there is no transparency as to (a) any viable plan to in situ replace Muhlenbedrg, (b) What value Solaris has placed on the Muhlenberg campus,(c) is it realistic in today's economy or just an insincere attempt to satisfy a precondition,(c) Is the so called valuation for the total property of just segments? The Mayor not the city party chairman should answer.

Let us face it, all the conditions Green and the Administration are seeking from Solaris are no more than a band aid in respect to what Plainfield requires for even minimally adequate health care. No amount of money poured into the Neighborhood Health Center can supply that need.

In an unrelated subject, my granddaughter who is employed by the State of Ohio has informed me that the state has imposed a mandatory 10 days furlough without pay on all state employees. More large government units are going to do something similar, already New Jersey has intimated that they will not honor the home owner's rebate. We can not hope that the "stimulus" will eliminated cost saving measures, just hope it can prevent complete financial collapse.

COMMENTS

Lately I and I suppose other Plainfield bloggers have been receiving comments that at best only superficially relate to the subject matter of the post they are referring to. Many of them consist of an anonymous personal attack upon another individual and seem to be motivated by Plainfield's political setup. I will not post any that are vituperative and/or politically oriented, nor will I post any so called comment that is not related to the particular blog or a very recent one.

I dislike the use of "Anonymous" and would prefer a "Nome d'email" '. Since that too can provide the writer anonymity but also denotes an individuality it makes the remarks more personal. Ideally any one making a comment on good faith should sign his/her name. There is no law that prevents the person from signing his name and " anonymous " should be reserved if there is a danger of repercussions.

There is a cardinal rule that a blog is not a newspaper and does not have to be an open forum for every malcontent who has an axe to grind. Those people should open their own blog and post whatever they wish within the limits of the site.

9:05 am 2/20/09 I wrote this post last night and had not read Plaintalker's short posting until just prior to this hour. There are at least two individuals ,one anonymous, who send the same comment to Plainfield Today, Plainfield Plaintalker, Maria's Blog , Councilors Storch and Burney's blogs and this one with the hope of getting exposure as a parasite. Sometimes we do give them space if there is merit. However if it is a political or personal attack such remarks belong to PMUA's garbage.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm still transposing slide of Egypt and have about 200 more to digitalized. Ergo; what a post will usually be from recent work.Along the Nile at Thebes are two large temple complexes. The biggest is KARNAK and some early pictures have already been posted. The smaller temple LUXOR was off limits to tourists when we were in Egypt. These pictures were again taken from the bus.



COUNCIL MEETING continued

Major items at the Council meeting were related to the presentation of the Rescue Squad situation, and the first reading of the Ordinance creating a position of "Director of Data Processing". The squad problem has been adequately covered by the news media ( Courier today 2/19/09), and Assemblyman Green's blog as well as Plainfield Today, Plainfield Plaintalker, and I hope this one.

Today Plainfield Plaintalker addresses the Data Processing Director ordinance in detail. I have alluded to it earlier and will do so again today. However before doing so I would like to call every ones attention to Plaintalker's posting on Black History Month. This is a must read.

In my youth, Plainfield had a bigoted element that exercised social and political power. The black community occupied an area that mostly extended between West 3rd St and the railroad tracks, from Plainfield Ave. to Grant Ave. There was an extension along West 4th Street from Liberty to Spooner Ave. and gradually spreading south and west.

Liberty Street from the tracks to 4th Street and West 3rd from Liberty to Plainfield Ave was the locality of a thriving Jewish commercial and residential area. Long before the riots but after WWII that area had been replaced by the 'projects".

To return to the Council meeting; action was taken to use a grant for the summer concerts in the downtown square. Also to participate in the county's " First Alert program" as well as approving funds for the Bryant Park Restroom facility.

To return to the Ordinance creating a cabinet level directorship of IT; I consider it to be ill advised at the present time. I am no denying the need for a responsible individual to fill that roll, but in the present economic times there will be many qualified individuals seeking employment and who would readily accept a lesser salary to be employed. Today, it is a buyers market and the city should be able to get great value for its buck.

I need not remind the Council that if it were not for Administrations entering into a contract that was never satisfactorily completed for development of IT systems several years ago, the present disorganization would not exist. There has also been a question about the then rubber stamp Council's pre-approval of the contract. See Plainfield Today old blogs.

There is however no reason that such a division could not be created by resolution under the director of finances etc. and the salary level be appropriate established at the time of fulfillment.

The Council needs not to be reminded that this is time for draconian measures in the not yet filled 2009 and the pending 2010 budgets. Although the state unions are contesting the 2 furlough days for the 2009 FY there will have to be a greater tightening of the belt for2010. The state of Ohio despite workers resistance has already instituted a one week furlough sans pay for the present year and are talking about further cuts. All political venues are facing similar situations and in some both union and salaried workers have cooperated. In any budget review the necessity of all position s should be subject to an in depth review.

RESCUE SQUAD & CITY HEALTH C ARE

I am digressing from reviewing the Council meeting due to the content of Plainfield Today, Plainfield Plaintalker's report on Jenny Pernell's appearance before the Council and Assemblyman Green's post today about "The Plainfield Rescue Squad Issue: Muhlenberg Recap."

Ms. Pernell recounted the physical as well as the financial problem the Squad is having in servicing Plainfield. She noted that the Rescue Squad has only one operational ambulance and five months after MRMC was closed Solaris has not lived up to its agreement to provide another ambulance, nor has the Commissioner of Health etc attempted to enforce that agreement.

She recounted the extraordinary delays encountered in answering emergency calls in Plainfield and that the surrounding squads are beginning to refuse to cover. They have no obligation to do so and such service is voluntary. She also noted that Plainfiled's squads income comes from insurance payment, and that only about 12% of the calls are adequately covered. With the closing of the hospital the trips are longer and Medicare reimbursement no longer covers expenses. In addition only 4 hours of the day are covered by volunteer squad members, the other EMTs are salaried.

Other area squads receive between $50,000 and $100,000 yearly from their community. Plainfield receives nothing. Fuel which up to 1995 was delivered at cost by the city must be purchased from commercial vendors.

Assemblyman Green notes that
"In the last six months, we have accomplished a lot in terms of making sure the residents of Plainfield and surrounding communities receive the best medical care not only from Solaris, but also from the surrounding hospitals. Because the ambulance issue is a part of a group of other concerns in the lawsuit, I have asked the Mayor and Council President to finalize their concerns and send them to the State. They will separate our concerns from other organizations involved in the lawsuit who are trying to lump us together with their distractions, which would in turn, slow our process."

He again blames others for the lack of progress and does not give concrete examples of what has been accomplished for the residents of Plainfield to receive "the best medical care". He equates the grant of &644,250 to the Plainfield Health Center as "aid to our health services in lieu of Muhlenberg closing. I would hope that he would not consider using the Health Center as an acceptable lieu to the Hospital if he or his family had a life threatening medical emergency.

In all deference to our Assemblyman's position at the State<, I doubt that he could have stemmed the forces that closed Muhlenberg. Politically, probably only a few of the area State Senators could have exerted if they had wished that type influence.


What would be helpful if the Assemblyman would identify his "new Task Force", and specifically how he, the mayor, and the TaskForce are going to "move forward". Also why is everyone who disagrees with Jerry Green a New Democrat. It reminds me of McCarthy and his communist witch hunt.

To accuse the Muhlenberg Board of Governors as the initiators of the closing of the hospital is inane. That board was a puppet organization of which the Mayor was a member. Only Solaris' Board and administrative personnel had the power to make such decisions.

To further accuse the Muhlenberg Board as being New Democrats illustrates how far the hospital phantom leadership had changed from when I was a Board member by virtue if being the President of the Medical Staff. In those days I would have considered the average membership to be politically slightly to the right of Newt Gingrich.

It is time that all of us ditch the pre-election politics and finger pointing. The Rescue squad's problems began in a much earlier administration when there was insufficient volunteers to staff the ambulances 24/7. A contract was awarded a private ambulance service to provide coverage when the Plainfield squad could not provide coverage. The decision by city governments- administration and council to reduce hen stop funding belongs to New and Old and Pseudo Democrats over several years.

As an "outsider" I am convinced that Plainfield's administration and the 2008 Council did almost nothing to try to prevent Plainfield's present health care catastrophe. Nor has there been openness regarding present attempts to rectify the hospital and transportation crisis.

All this however is water over the dam. The Mayor and Assemblyman and Council should energetically act to remedy the mess resulting from transportation problems plus the physical and operational deficiencies at JFK. Plainfield must find money to support the squad. $100K to the squad is more important than an Information Technology director. We must get our priorities right. Health Care is as much a concern for Public Safety as reducing crime.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A quartet not from the Council's meeting room but from the passageway leading to the mummy's resting chamber in a Pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile near Thebes. I can not read the script but it tells the story of the rulers accomplishments and anticipated afterlife. In the next to the last one the Goddess is balancing his soul against the physical body to determine if he is worthy of joining the Gods.

This area is dessert. Various excavated tombs-many more since 1973 are open periodically for tourist visits, including King Tut's.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday night's council meeting

Where were the citizens? Where was the TV camera? At Tuesday night's council meeting there were in the audience at the most ten voters plus a few individuals who represented interested parties in the agenda . It seemed that there were more bodies behind the bar than attendees.

The question, could this have been due to the change in the usual and customary date? Or does the sparse involvees reflect the lack of community interest in civic affairs? Or could it have been the competition of American Idol? Time will tell.

It will take me some time to review my notes and be able to post my input from the meeting. Suffice to say, Plainfield Plaintalker has already discussed the Rescue Squad's presentation.

One item that was tabled deserves commentary and I will do so later today or tomorrow. In the meantime the council still needs clarification of Parlimentary procedures in order that well meaning action that differs from Robert"s or Sturgis, rules of order would not be subject to legal challenge. Although there was no major deviation in the motion to table, the Council should be advised that there are three (3) specific variations to that motion none of which was used; They are;
  1. A motion to "postpone (table) Definitively". This sets a specific time when the item must be taken off the "table" for action.
  2. A motion to "table Indefinitely" does not mean that the item is dead but it de facto indicates that there will be no action before the organizations term expires. It can be used as the equivalent without establishing a position as a no vote.
  3. A motion to "table Temporarily" suggest that the item will be open for action at anytime in the future, even later in the same meeting. All it would take is a motion to take it off the table. Without any description a 'tabling motion must fall into this classification by default.
We will be back later today even if it is only to post some more pictures from Egypt.

Potpourri

It certainly is gratifying to learn that the Plainfield Neighborhood Health Center is to receive $644,250 in state aid this year. I suppose this is the Corzine administration and our state politicians response to their destroying Plainfield's acute care facility. This is like adding a crab apple to the fruit bowl to replace the pear they ate.

There can be no substitute no matter how well it is configured that can replace the availability of a full service top notch hospital. Our political leadership must work relentlessly to find an entity that will reopen at least a 120 bed facility. We must face facts, Muhlenberg can not, nor will it ever be replaced. However Plainfield needs more than it has received.

That said, I am still transferring old slides to digital form. At present I am working on a volume of about 300 more slides from two visits to Egypt in 1973. One was part of a Smithsonian tour that not only spent time in Egypt but also included the Rose City of Petra in Jordan.Many have seen one of the significant sites in Petra as part of an Indiana Jones movie. I have not found those slides at this time. The other was a one day trip from Alexandria to Cairo and then to Port Said to rejoin the cruise ship.

Today before proceeding east of Suez, here are some snaps from the city of Suez which is at the south end, Red Sea, of the canal. The apartment house is not tilted, I think that was the photographer.






Monday, February 16, 2009

RANDOM NOT ALL TRIVIA THOUGHTS

Plainfield bloggers as usual have recently provided a variety of public interest information and suggestions. I am taking advantage of my blog to express my opinions.

Thank goodness Maria is back on the BOE trail. Her recent remarks deserve 100% support. The School nurse should not be a part time position which would be the result from assigning one to two or more schools. For safety reasons one should always be on site.

Her latest comment on "school trips" also hits the mark. The educational experience can not be limited to in classroom book learning. There must be exposure to outside influences that are pertinent to the grade/age level. What is important is that the community must bare the expenses, in no case should pressure be placed upon a family for money. No child should be exposed to embarrassment if his parents cannot or will not afford the cost of the trip.

Bernice in her Plainfield Plaintalker will review various changes in the Council meeting format and Council President Burney's attempt to rekindle public interest. About seven years ago when I had to discontinue my routine presence at the meetings, the Court House was always at least 50% filled for each business session. When I again started attending this past year there never was more than a "Bakers Dozen" citizens present unless some one was getting an award. In that case immediately after that portion of the meeting the courtroom emptied leaving maybe six attendees.

The Council had changed that meeting into a rubber stamp required session, placing most items on its "Consent Agenda" which required one vote and no discussion to pass everything. Yes the meetings were short and the "law" was satisfied. However there was no attempt to encourage public interest. The ill advised Monday-Wednesday schedule may have met the Council's personal needs but turned off the public.

Bob Ferrara's letter in Sunday's Courier properly pointed out the need to support the Plainfield Humane Society. For years in the past it had been a quasi city agency receiving annual financial support. What level that has been in the past decade should be examined and a proper allocation must be placed into the budget. That should not preclude public donations.

His other comment about city employees and the requirement of a car a determining factor for accepting the position is to the point. City residency while ideal has been waived for decades as long as the individual was available. Many years ago when I was in practice, one of the requirements for a hospital staff appointment was that the on call physician be no more than twenty minutes away. That is a good criteria.

Dan's item on Spam in the depression as well as WWII diets brought back memories of my overseas days when we hoped for a " care package from home". Combat troops were supposed to get a hot meal if possible and the cooks were creative. But all too often the GIs ate "C Rations" -canned stew or beans with meat etc. Equally prominent was the "K Ration" which even in its "Ham & Eggs" incarnation was similar to today's cat food cans. There was also an Emergency "D Ration" which was a highly concentrated chocolate bar for emergency use when isolated. The D was for the diarrhea that resulted from eating too much.

After I had been in Europe for several months a care package caught up to me. There were some needed goods but the piece de resistance for this poor soldier boy was a can of SPAM. Good intentions are always appreciated; it is the thought that counts.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

IN THE NILE DELTA

No explanation views of the Nile Delta from bus.



PHOTO TRIVIA



Portofino is a beautiful resort town between Genoa and Monaco. Harbor side are many restaurants and little tri-legged tables and stools where one can enjoy a cappuccino while contemplating the world.


As the saying goes "HAVE A GREAT DAY"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

LIGHT POTPOURRI

Friday night I had no serious subject to post. The House had passed the compromise "Stimulus bill" on purely party line voteing although a fewe Democrats had voted against it. The Semate had suspended voting for one absent membe rto return and vote "yes" asasuring passage of the controversal bill. My feeble analysis will have to wait for a little more published information.

About 30 years ago I suddenly found out that there was not an avaiable microphone I did not like. Similarly, the availability of the Internet and the "Blog" has created an opportunity to verbalize on anything and everything. The source of the material can come from anywheres, newesmedia, meetings, other blogs,old memories, what have you, as so forth. I do not consider posting old photos as anything more than a desirte to share some of our pleasant life experiences with my "friends".

I seldom forward email jokes, in fact the number people send me annoys me and most I do not open.. However this one cam from a "old patient" an Italian girl married to an Irishman whose first babies I delivered in the late 40s early 50s. She still represents the epitome of the personal relationships that made my 46 years of practice an avocation and not a job. We still keep in contact. I hope you also enjoy it.

I'M SURE THAT GOD ENJOYS A GOOD LAUGH, TOO!


There were 3 good arguments that Jesus was Black:

1. He called everyone brother
2. He liked Gospel
3. He didn't get a fair trial


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:
1. He went into His Father's business
2. He lived at home until he was 33
3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his Mother was sure He was God


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian:
1. He talked with His hands
2. He had wine with His meals
3. He used olive oil


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was a Californian:
1. He never cut His hair
2. He walked around barefoot all the time
3. He started a new religion


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was an American Indian:
1. He was at peace with nature
2. He ate a lot of fish
3. He talked about the Great Spirit


But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Irish:


1. He never got married.
2. He was always telling stories.
3. He loved green pastures.
But the most compelling evidence of all - 3 proofs that Jesus was a woman:


1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was virtually no food
2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it
3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do


Can I get an

AMEN!!